I'm disappointed in my MacBook Pro

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Preface: This entry was hard for me to write. I'm not an Apple die-hard, but I do recommend Macs all the time to family and friends. In the past, Apple hardware has been reason alone to buy a Mac. I don't believe that's the case anymore. Something happened to Apple, they lost their edge...

I got a new MacBook Pro about a month ago, and although I think I'd be even less happy with an equivalent PC laptop had I gotten one, there are a number of things about this laptop that either irritate me, frustrate me or disappoint me. Although it's bigger/faster in the ram/cpu department compared to my previous Mac laptop, a PowerBook G4 12", in many ways it feels like a huge downgrade.

* Irritation: The keyboard sucks. The keyboard on this thing is so bad I'm tempted to go "youtube" on it and make a video demonstrating how bad it is. There are places on some of the keys where you can press them down but it won't register a key press. I think the root cause is they replaced the mechanical lever/spring action of the previous keyboards with a cheap flexible rubber. The arrow keys still use the mechanical lever/spring configuration--they're the only decent keys on the whole keyboard. Because of the poor keyboard I find myself "punching" the keys and gritting my teeth unconsciously.. and then my wrists start to get sore.

* Frustration: The headphone output is simply unusable. There's no other way to put it folks; the headphone output is not usable, and I'm not the only one with this complaint. There's a ton of high-pitched noise that is impossible to ignore at lower volumes, it drives me crazy. Forget doing any audio work on the MacBook Pro. I was looking forward to getting intel versions of my favorite production tools, I guess that won't happen now.

* Disappointment: The display doesn't tilt back far enough. I used to use my PowerBook G4 on the kitchen counter standing up--I'd tilt the screen way back so I could see it easily. I can't do that with this laptop, I have to either sit down or bend over.

There's more:

* The light detector they use to control the keyboard brightness doesn't work in pitch-black. If I try to use the back lit keyboard with the light out it doesn't work. It picks up it's own light and turns off. Then it thinks its dark again and turns on. It oscillates on/off endlessly until I just disable it. I put a video of the illumination problems online here.

* This is likely a software issue, but it has problems going to sleep. Let me rephrase that--it won't sleep unless I tell it too by closing the lid.

* When I first got it the wireless didn't work after I upgraded to 10.5.2.

What the hell happened Apple? I'm so disappointed. Did Steve lose his fanaticism?

Did I mention that I sent the laptop back for repair once already? The first keyboard I received was even worse than the one that's on it currently. The replacement is *slightly* better, but still no where near as good as the one on the PowerBook G4. Going back to type on the PowerBook G4 is like night and day. I did an informal survey at work asking people to decide which keyboard they liked better, and 8 out of 8 people prefered the PowerBook G4 keyboard to the MBP keyboard.

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Wow. Thanks for the heads up! Many of us die-hard PowerBook users have been debating the merits and timing that would be best for an upgrade. Your insight into the wisdom of waiting is much appreciated. For those of us with relatively modest needs, the ol' PowerBook still works pretty well, and the software is all well known and mostly stable.Although eager to step into a more powerful machine, when thinking of a laptop, such niceties as a comfortable keyboard are paramount. I'm dealing with the 15" PowerBook, and cannot find the heart to let her go, even after the warranty expiration. Just keep a solid backup of the HD, and you're good to go.

Update: I actually sent the thing back for a second repair about a month after this blog entry. They replaced three components: the mainboard, the keyboard (again), and some other component I didn't recognize. The high-pitched buzz is gone, the illumination problems were fixed, but the keyboard is still the same build quality and it still has sleep issues.For day-to-day use I still reach for my 12" PowerBook G4 more than the MacBook Pro.

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This page contains a single entry by Robert W. Rose published on May 2, 2008 11:00 PM.

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